Retreat To Your Lair – Your Writing Sanctuary

by Randy Murray on February 9, 2010

Writing takes focus. While I can write anywhere, I find that I’m most comfortable and most productive in my own space. It’s a part of the house that most visitors never see. But this is the space where I feel most at home, most truly myself.

I’ve written everywhere and for most of my life that’s meant out of an office with all the distractions of business continually taking me away from the work. But even then I found ways to seal myself away when I absolutely had to produce. But that means writing as a fugitive, hidden, on the run, terrified of discovery. It’s so much better to be free to write in one’s own space.

Do you have a space where you can write? It can be a corner where you can secrete yourself away. It can be a cubbyhole in your basement. Or you can take over a whole room, as I have, for the pursuit of your writing. Any space will do. But make it your own and warn others on threat of torture to stay away during your designated writing times.

Here are my suggestions for your ultimate writing space:

  1. Give yourself room to work. I have what’s called a “paymaster’s” desk. I asked for the big raised storage section that was designed to run across the back to not be included on mine. It’s more of a table, really. But I can spread out the materials I need to use when working on a specific piece or project. When you’re not working on that project, collect up all the materials and store them, within reach if you need to, but get them off your desk. I use a caddy under mine for immediate access storage, including my day, week, month, and next actions files. And make sure you have space for your inbox, too.
  2. Give yourself space to read and not write. Part of your job as a writer is to read and think. While it doesn’t have to be in the same space, I like being reminded that writers work for readers. I also like to have my reference works near by.
  3. Let the interior decoration speak to you. This is YOUR space. No one else has to see it. Let the room comfort and inspire you.
  4. Give some thought to ergonomics and comfort. I’m in here at least six hours a day, sometimes many more. Think seriously about the type of keyboard you use. I use a Microsoft keyboard and mouse that I find very comfortable.  Also check your monitor height. If you use a laptop, consider getting a stand or riser. Think about your chair – mine isn’t the best, but I get by with a seat cushion and a lumbar back pad. But I do have my Swedish recliner I can retreat to, if necessary. I highly recommend the Ekornes Stressless. It’s also perfect for those writer’s naps.
  5. Protect your space by helping others have their own spaces. I recommend that you have an open discussion with your family or whoever you share your living space with. Let them know about your writing and its importance to you. Then help them establish either a communal space or individual spaces where they can pursue their own activities. But make clear that YOUR space is just that – yours. If your space is part of a communal space, for instance, the corner of an existing room, consider establishing a demilitarized zone (DMZ) or border to separate it. Watch for incursions and deal with them swiftly and decisively.

Writing is hard work. Part of your tool kit is your space. When you have your own space, just entering it will help you get to work. And leaving it will help you to reenter life and leave the work behind.

Find your space, declare sovereignty, and protect your borders! And good luck with the work of writing.

The Retreat To Your Lair – Your Writing Sanctuary by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Maryanne Carman February 11, 2010 at 4:12 am

This is something I would love to have, a space of my own where I can be more productive as an artist, creative writer and even as a blogger. Unfortunately our current living situation doesn’t allow for such a space, but I’m hoping that will change very soon.

I do like to visualize the type of space I would create for myself when I get the chance and I say ‘when’ because if I have to move mountains to get a space I can call my own, then I will. But I believe as an artist and as an individual these kinds of spaces are sometimes a necessity.

Great post - I really enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading more!


Randy Murray February 11, 2010 at 8:03 am

A space of one’s own is very important, but don’t let that stop you from creating now. If you have to, make an agreement with the others that you live with that for certain times each day, you’ll be working and you don’t want to be interrupted. Put on headphones. Find a corner and work facing the wall. Do what ever you need to do to find your space.

And good luck!



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